Name: Chad Kelly
Height: 6’2" Weight: 224 lbs
Age: 23 Experience: Rookie
College: Ole Miss
The argument on who will become the quarterback of the future for the Denver Broncos has been beaten like a dead horse over the past year. Fans in both the Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch camps have been vocal in their support and adoration of both players. Each of them have a lot of positives, but still have a lot to prove in order to earn the job long-term. In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Broncos may have thrown the proverbial wrench into the quarterback battle when they selected Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly with the final selection in the draft.
Finished up our 2017 draft by taking Mississippi QB Chad Kelly. A talented player & great competitor who had a lot of success in college.— John Elway (@johnelway) April 29, 2017
Truth be told, this year’s Mr. Irrelevant actually isn’t really irrelevant at all — and in time, could very well prove to be the most relevant quarterback on the team’s roster. He was Head Coach Vance Joseph’s favorite quarterback in the entire draft. All and all, Kelly has the physical tools, on the field swagger and arm talent to become a starter in this league. And yes, I do believe if Kelly keeps his head on straight and off-the-field incidents at bay, he has all the talent in the world to succeed as a quarterback at the next level and in a few years, could certainly be the man calling the shots for the Broncos’ offense.
Yeah, I believe in him that much.
A four-star recruit out of St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute in New York, Kelly committed to Clemson University, where he was redshirted in his first season in 2012. In his second year with the Tigers, Kelly saw action in five games, where he passed for only 58 yards and added 117 more on the ground with a touchdown. In 2014, Kelly had the opportunity to be the team's starting quarterback, but was kicked out of Death Valley for conduct detrimental to the team.
Kelly then transferred to East Mississippi Community College, where he started all twelve games for the Lions and proceeded to light up the stat sheets, throwing for 3,906 yards, 47 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. His high caliber of play led the Lions to an undefeated record and secured them the NCJAA Championship. For Kelly, success at that low-level of football was just too easy.
His single-season campaign at EMCC earned him a shot at redemption. In late 2014, he committed to Ole Miss and promptly earned the team’s starting quarterback job. In his first season with the Rebels, Kelly took the SEC by storm and completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 4,042 yards, 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
He had several impressive games, including an on-the-road win against Alabama, a Madden-like statistical performance against Arkansas (478 yards, 6 touchdowns), a four touchdown performance and victory against LSU and earned Sugar Bowl honors in the Rebels’ victory over Oklahoma State in January. Kelly inked himself into the team’s record books and became the first quarterback in the school’s history to defeat Alabama, Auburn and LSU in the same year.
Impressive. . . most impressive.
With a historic season in the books, Kelly went from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. Soon after, his name was quickly floated by draft pundits and analysts as first-round caliber — with the prospect of being a top selection if he could continue his success as a senior.
Kelly continued to perform well as a senior and through nine games, he tossed the ball for 2,758 yards and 19 touchdowns. Unfortunately, Kelly tore his ACL and meniscus in a game against Georgia Southern, which would sideline him for the rest of the season and put his overall draft stock in jeopardy.
Several off-the-field incidents led to the NFL rescinding their offer for him to compete in the annual NFL Combine. His draft status was further complicated when he needed wrist surgery after suffering an injury in private workouts leading up to Ole Miss’ Pro Day in April. The amalgamation of all the aforementioned created a downward spiral for the talented signal caller, who eventually slid all the way to the last pick of the draft. Fortunately for Kelly, the Broncos ended his draft slide and selected him with the last pick in the NFL Draft.
Now it’s up to him to prove he can put everything that transgressed in the past and focus on doing whatever it takes to make a name for himself in the National Football League.
Ultimate competitor on the field with extreme confidence in his abilities. Was arguably the best quarterback in the country in 2015, where he earned second-team All-SEC honors. Elevates his play to the highest levels in the biggest moments. Dual-threat quarterback who has the ability to beat teams with his legs and his arm. Impressive numbers and accuracy in regard to short and intermediate throws. Possesses impeccable arm strength and the ability to make any throw at the next level. Is lethal on play action calls, where he completed an uncanny 68 percent of his throws.
Numerous off-the-field incidents. Personal character and overall maturity is suspect at best. Injury concerns are legitimate due to a torn ACL and meniscus during the 2016 season, as well as surgery on his right wrist prior to the NFL Draft. Takes a lot of risks and makes a lot of questionable throws due to having a gunslinger mentality. Struggled with the deep ball in 2016 in comparison to 2015. Operated in a passer-friendly system where most of his success was dialed up on half-field reads. Overall vision could stand to improve, as he often missed the wide open receiver and opted to go for the big-time play.
"In order to have confidence in yourself and team, you have to think you're the best. That's what I want our whole team -- from offensive linemen to running backs -- we have to think we're the best players and the best team out there.” — Kelly when asked if he was the best QB in the SEC
Kelly is still recovering from multiple injuries and has yet to participate actively at OTA’s or during the Broncos’ short minicamp. Nevertheless, Kelly has all the tools to succeed as a quarterback at the next level and could end up being a diamond in the rough for the Broncos . . . if he keeps his head on straight.
That being said, I don’t envision Kelly making an impact for the team this season or next, but come 2019 — if Siemian is no longer with the team and Lynch hasn’t proven to be worth his selection, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kelly ends up being the guy behind center leading the Broncos on the gridiron several seasons down the road.
Will Chad Kelly eventually be the team’s starting quarterback?
This poll is closed